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1) Olivia Benson (Law and Order: Special Victims Unit); portrayed by Mariska Hargitay
As a detective in the law division dealing with sex crimes, Benson has one of the most emotionally draining jobs there is, yet she deals with it with compassion for the victims and a natural skill at her job.
Introduced as a foil for her more emotionally-removed colleague, Benson is a source of comfort for the victims she deals with and does her best to bring criminals to justice. Her background as a victim of physical abuse means she is able to understand the emotional trauma of the men and women she meets and it is her brilliance and intelligence that leads to her becoming Sergeant and eventually acting Commanding Officer.
2) Professor Annalise Keating (How To Get Away With Murder); portrayed by Viola Davis
New show How To Get Away With Murder is fast becoming a firm hit for its intriguing plot and the star of the show: Viola Davis.
Annalise is a criminal law professor at the prestigious Middleton University of Philadelphia and works as a defence attorney. She teaches a class on Criminal Law or, in her words, ‘How to Get Away with Murder’. Her intelligence is astounding and her care for her students is evident – she respects their willingness to learn and berates those who don’t try their best.
Davis received much acclaim for a scene in a recent episode in which she removed her wig and make-up, effectively shedding the armour that she wears in her day-to-day life. As a black woman, Annalise is proud of who she is even in the closed off ranks of criminal lawyers.
3) Michonne (The Walking Dead); portrayed by Danai Gurira
Michonne enters apocalyptic drama The Walking Dead flanked by two walkers (zombies) she had domesticated into being her pack-horses, and carrying a katana. Such a badass entrance was sure to have Michonne on this list.
In terms of action, Michonne is like an earth-bound Ripley. Facing off against hordes of ravenous undead she has a kill-rate to rival the male members of the show, including fan favourite Daryl. Preferring the hands-on (or should that be heads-off?) effect of her katana, Michonne deals with crowds of walkers with extraordinary ease.
Flashbacks in the show (SPOILERS) show her past as a loving mother and partner. Clearly haunted by the loss of her family, Michonne manages to survive both physically and mentally to become a strong and determined woman.
Michonne shows that women can be just as tough as the boys and does so whilst looking like she was born for the apocalypse.
4) Peggy Olson (Mad Men); portrayed by Elizabeth Moss
Friends of mine will know my love (read: obsession) with Mad Men and particularly with Joan Holloway. But this time I felt that Peggy, the plain mouse of the show, deserved a little bit of love too.
Appearing first as a naive girl, shying away from the pig-headed men of Stirling Cooper, Peggy dealt with an unwanted and unexpected pregnancy, sexism, a lack of trust in her work and mopey, balding baby Pete Campbell having a long-lasting crush on her – all in the first series.
Peggy rises through the ranks and fast eclipses her male co-workers to become Copy Chief at both Stirling Cooper and CGC. Her advertising visions are modern and inventive, even if they are dropped in favour of the more masculine feel of Don Draper or Ginsberg. Despite constantly being belittled for her sex she lets her work speak for itself; and it’s usually amazing.
Peggy’s not perfect; her bad luck in love make us want to introduce her to red wine and Bridget Jones. Sap after sap enters her life, messes it up then leaves – leaving Peggy with her gorgeous ginger cat.
Peggy is an icon for any woman who ever felt undervalued at work or had to deal with workplace sexism. And anyone who has ever let Pete Campbell enter her is a stronger woman than I am.
5) Velma Dinkley (Scooby Doo); voiced by various
Ahh Velma. A special place is reserved in my heart for you, largely due to my mother forcing me to have a brown bob for several years of my life, giving me more than a passing resemblance to you.
As the brains of the Scooby Doo outfit, Velma ensured that the shenanigans of the gang ended in unmasking the janitor/mailman/creepy old man, rather than them all being captured (we’re looking at you, Daphne).
Whilst not the most attractive of cartoon women (Wilma Flintstone, Marge Simpson etc.) Velma had a geeky charm and gave hope to the many chubby little girls, telling them that they could be smart and that their looks didn’t impact on how well they did their jobs. Although Fred claimed to be the ringleader of the group, Velma was definitely the one pulling the strings.
And how freakishly strong was she to carry Shaggy and Scooby away from ghosts?